Public libraries provide a vital, free space where people can learn and socialise, and they can also reduce loneliness and social isolation.

However, in 2017/18 only 33% of adults had used a public library service and between 2010 and 2016, 343 libraries closed, much higher than the government’s estimate of 110. We’re working with Dorset Libraries to expand what libraries offer and to evolve them into cultural hubs.

We want to ensure:

  • High-quality arts and culture reaches a wider audience
  • More people are encouraged to use the library services
  • Libraries enrich more lives and bring communities together

We’re supporting the delivery of a diverse programme of arts and culture in Weymouth and Gillingham libraries. This includes creative workshops, performances and artists and writers residences. It is funded by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding.

How we’re involved

  • We helped develop the funding bid after partnering a first stage consultation with the communities in Gilligham and Weymouth
  • We wrote the artists briefs for the 8 residencies and supported recruitment of all the artists
  • We support the Libraries as Cultural Hubs co-ordinator in her role working with the artists and programming activities. 
  • We are on the programme steering group
  • We will feed into the evaluation and reporting for the programme

Our impact

Key Facts

13 artists employed
5879 participants at events
500 live audience
7 new commissions
488 exhibition/performance days
26 staff training days


“This has made a big difference to me. Did I tell you I’ve been very ill? I don’t think of any of that when I come and see you, you’ve really encouraged me and given me hope with my poems.”
– Writing workshop participant


What’s Next?
• Gillingham Library will now stage two shows a year, supported by trained library staff.
• Weymouth Library is installing permanent display fittings for art work and Gillingham are building portable staging that will become a shared libraries
• We are developing a helpful guide and resources for library staff to plan their future creative programmes.


Writer in residence Alan Ward reflects on his time at Gillingham Library

Fiction writer and poet Alan Ward has completed his residency at Gillingham Library. He's put together his final thoughts and reflections for this successful project. I’ve got to know Gillingham Library very well in the last three months. I’ve known it in its quiet...

Sarah Acton’s writer’s residency lives on at Weymouth Library

Writer, poet and creative facilitator Sarah Acton has just completed her three-month writers residency at Weymouth Library. Although her time there has come to an end, her project 'Weymouth-on-Sea' will live on. Here's Sarah to tell you more: At the start of my...

This Library is Yours: Introducing Gillingham Library’s writer-in-residence Alan Ward

Gillingham Library is currently home to fiction writer and poet Alan Ward. He's encouraging everyone to engage more with their local library and to celebrate this wonderful public resource we all share. We recently caught up with him to find out how he's getting on...